Screen Australia announces new guidelines to restart local film and TV production

Actors in physically intimate scenes may be required to enter quarantine "bubbles"

Screen Australia has released new guidelines to restart local film and TV production, requiring every production to draw up their own “COVID-Safe Risk Mitigation Program”.

The 42-page guidelines were developed by the Australian Screen Sector Task Force, composed of a multitude of local film entities, and in consultation with the Commonwealth Department of Health.

The guidelines are a live document which is subject to change with government-prescribed easing of restrictions in different state jurisdictions. They are not “mandatory” or “enforceable” but provide a framework for each production’s own individual COVID management plan.

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As part of the suggested new rules, visitors to set would be banned unless considered essential. Deep cleaning of the set and accessories to the set will be part of mandatory hygiene controls, set zones will be strictly segregated, make-up artists will be allocated to one person each and traditional self-serve buffet catering will be replaced by individual pre-packaged meals. Casts will be asked to test for COVID-19 prior to the commencement of shooting, with regular re-testing throughout.

One of the more radical proposals is the creation of quarantine “bubbles” for film workers involved with intimate or fight scenes. Workers may be asked to stay in on-set accomodation, and self-isolate for a 14 day period afterwards. Productions are also asked to look for “creative technological alternatives” to physically intimate sequences.

Many of the other rules reflect general mandatory government health advice regarding social distancing and hygiene.

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said the new guidelines were “an essential tool” to ensure the return of the Australian film and TV industry.

“We hope that the COVID-Safe Guidelines will help inform practitioners on what they need to be considering before they get back up and running. The Task Force has been unified in their passion to get the industry returning to work as soon as it is safe to do so, and this is a necessary and invaluable resource,” he said.

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The Age notes Australia’s screen industry has been unique through the coronavirus pandemic, as production of Neighbours and NSW-shot US feature film Children of the Corn continued successfully through the month of May.

Some Australian productions have already announced they would begin shooting before the end of the year, including Australian visual artist Del Kathryn Barton’s debut feature Puff.

Last month, Screen Producers Australia revealed 119 local productions have been halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

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